Three-time Santos Women’s Tour Down Under champion Amanda Spratt returns to racing this weekend as she lines-up in Team BikeExchange-Jayco colours for the first time at the Santos Festival of Cycling.
The Australian is back in action following surgery for iliac artery endofibrosis at the end of 2021 and will link-up with new recruits Georgia Baker, Alex Manly and the in-form Ruby Roseman-Gannon for the three-day race. Amber Pate will also join the squad as a guest rider for the event, fresh off a silver medal ride at the Australian time trial championships last week.
The racing begins on Sunday with an opportunity for the sprinters, before a hilly day two that features almost three kilometres of gravel roads. The third and final stage will also see the peloton tackle two off-road sectors before taking on the testing Ngangkiparri Climb inside the final two kilometres to make for an exciting ending to the three-day tour.
The women will race again the following day, as part of the Santos Festival of Cycling, with a stand-alone criterium around the streets of Victoria Square where Roseman-Gannon will get the opportunity to wear her green and gold Australian champion’s jersey for the first time on Wednesday evening.
Team BikeExchange-Jayco women’s team line-up:
Georgia Baker (AUS)
Alex Manly (AUS)
Ruby Roseman-Gannon (AUS)
Amanda Spratt (AUS)
Amber Pate (AUS – Guest Rider)
“My training has been going pretty well since the surgery. I’ve been able to train since just before Christmas and apart from a hamstring issue that we’ve had to manage, it’s been progressing well. I’m at a point now where I can feel some fitness and strength coming back and although I’m very far away from top form, I am still really excited to be in Adelaide for the Santos Festival of Cycling. We thought this would be a great way to break up the rehab and training and I feel excited to be back with the team!
My own expectations will be very different to normal, but I am very motivated to be able to pin a number on and race with my teammates again. I’ve watched all of the races so far this year and can see how strong they are and supportive of each other.
Obviously, Ruby has shown she is in great form and the courses should suit her, but I think we will have different options and be able cover most scenarios. The courses are shorter than what we are used to racing but they look great and should suit a variety of riders. Stage three in particular looks like a tough one with the gravel sectors and tough late climb.”
Gene Bates (Sports Director):
“We’re extremely excited to be racing,, the Tour Down Under is one of our favourite races as a team and we’ve always traditionally done very well, often starting our season off well in the summer in Australia and we’d like to do the same this year. It’s a smaller race, due to the current circumstances, not a UCI women’s WorldTour event, but we still want to have a great race and get some momentum before the European season starts.
Our goal for the race is to go after stages and the overall, being such a short race and without a real key GC day, you have to be in it to win it, and from day one we want to go after stage wins and that will set us up for a good overall. I think we have some good, in-form riders, in particular with what we saw from Ruby in Ballarat and I don’t think the overall is out of her reach.
I see this as a great opportunity as an early season race to get the group together, we’ve only got a small group here, but it’s big in quality. With three new riders on contract for 2022, it’s a nice low-key starting point, particularly brining in Amanda Spratt with all her experience of years with the team. I think it’s probably a nicer way to introduce them to team racing than dropping them off straight into the European season.
This will be the first race back for Spratt after surgery at the end of last year and by all accounts her rehabilitation has gone well and to plan, so we feel like it’s a good point in time for her to comeback to racing. Obviously, her expectations are not high, we’re going to see how she goes and it’s really a case of bringing her in in a captains role for this race. She brings a wealth of experience to this race for the younger riders in the squad.”
2022 Santos Festival of Cycling – Race Details:
Sunday, 23rd January: Stage 1, Tanunda to Williamstown, 85.4km
Monday, 24th January: Stage 2, McLaren Vale to Echunga, 85.7km
Tuesday, 25th January: Stage 3, Lobethal to Lobethal, 86.9km
Wednesday, 26th January: Criterium, Victoria Square, 1.35km (45mins +1 Lap)
Photo Courtesy of Getty Sport.